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Turkey-Russia Rapprochement – OpEd


By Gosan Godjaev*


Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli on Wednesday confirmed that the S-400 missile deal with Russia has been concluded.

Recent events on the world stage show a rapid rapprochement between Turkey and Russia. After the incident with the Russian bomber the two states were on the verge of severing ties. Now the countries have demonstrated a significant breakthrough in almost in all areas of cooperation.

Experts argue that long term prospects for Russian-Turkish relations are strengthening.

There are those who claim that Erdogan turned toward Moscow when “faced with opposition in the West to his authoritarian methods, and commitment to Islamic ideology. In case of any positive foreign policy gesture from the US or the EU, Mr. Erdogan will immediately turn away from Russia”. But there are also those who believe that the changing of Ankara priorities has a long-term character.

First, while having dictatorial inclinations Erdogan has always been a mere pragmatist. His position regarding Turkey’s accession to the EU is an example of this. The idea of entering the Turkish Republic into united Europe structures was for Turkey essential for decades. Since Kemal Ataturk’s times the majority of the Turkish elite have viewed themselves as Europeans. Turkey has been an “associate member” of the EU since 1964 and handed in its formal application for membership in 1987. The Turks have waited for a measure of appreciation of their European aspirations for 30 years. And what is the result? Two key continental players – France and Germany – have totally been against Turkey’s integration into the EU, regardless of their own political course changes.


Germany, having failed in its multicultural experiment, fears of the uncontrolled growth of the Turkish diaspora. France traditionally finds a cause to talk about human rights violations, covering a deep antagonism toward the country with a large population and a promising economy.

What is the result of Turkey’s “European integration” for today? Erdogan has said that the EU was a “closed Christian club”, where Turkey would never been accepted. He said that it was not worth trying. For the first time in three decades a political leader of Turkey has turned away from a foreign policy that was a constant of the whole national foreign policy.

Second, there has been a crisis in relations between Ankara and NATO for several years. Remember the recent scandal during the maneuvers in Norway when the portraits of Ataturk and Erdogan were used as targets of potential enemies for firing. But this outrageous insult from the military “allies” is just a petty crime when compared to events in 2015.

The fact is that despite the armed forces, Turkey has a significant breach in its defense. We are talking about the lack of modern layered air defense. All attempts of Ankara to buy the American Patriot missiles have failed due to the reluctance of the United States. The US has stated that the security of Turkey is guaranteed by the American and German Patriot missiles. When Turkey extended the permission to use the Incirlik airbase in 2015, the “guarantors” decided on a unilateral basis to remove the complexes from duty. The credibility to the NATO partners has been undermined.

The legal framework of the Alliance does not provide that the allies are obliged to enter a war in case of an attack against one member. The national governments have right to decide it. So there was a question for Turkey: Who was Russia for them? A strategic enemy or a strategic partner?

The S-400 deal, previous treaties on energy resources and nuclear energy transportation shows the answer. The fact is that the Russian s-400 means in practice the beginning of a long-term cooperation (supplies, operators training, etc.), as well as the design of a national layered air defense with the broad involvement of the Russian defense industry, which is able to offer a wide range of land systems.

As such, we are witnessing how Turkey is making a radical geopolitical turn towards Russia. Despite the fact that the signed contracts have a point only if their implementation is prolonged by 50 years, there is absolute confidence that Russia will not alienate the Turkish partners as the United States and Europe have done.

Source: This article was published by The Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth

News, analysis and research portal "The Commonwealth" is a think tank for those, who want to be in touch with the latest news about former USSR and other countries. The Commonwealth aims to provide readers with professional analytics on the topical issues.

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